Of the 220 radiation protection shelters being prepared in areas about 30 kilometers from nuclear power plants in 17 prefectures in case of a nuclear disaster, 39 facilities, or 17.7 percent, are located in landslide risk zones, according to a Mainichi Shimbun study.
Radiation protection shelters are being prepared for those who will have a difficult time quickly evacuating far from nuclear plants in the event of a serious nuclear disaster, such as elderly people with health issues and people with disabilities. The buildings are equipped with anti-radiation filters and other materials to block radioactive rays and will serve as evacuation shelters for targeted residents. Some of them are intended to be used as disaster control offices.
In response to the March 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, the Cabinet Office introduced a subsidy system in which the cost of such shelters would be covered entirely by the government, and renovation work is being carried out on existing facilities such as hospitals and schools in 17 prefectures.
The outline for rules over the subsidies for radiation protection shelters states that the candidate facilities need to be less likely to collapse in tremors or be flooded by tsunami under the assumption that a strong earthquake and nuclear disaster occur simultaneously. In regard to potential landslide disasters, however, the Cabinet Office has not set any restrictions on locations for such shelters because it "would place a limit on the number of candidate facilities."
The Cabinet Office is set to revise the subsidizing rules by the end of this fiscal year and in principle have local governments prepare radiation protection shelters outside landslide risk zones. If it is difficult for local governments to avoid such areas, the Cabinet Office will require them to take other safety measures such as securing separate shelters in case landslide disasters occur.
The Mainichi Shimbun surveyed the 17 prefectures that have such shelters and learned that in 11 prefectures they are located within landslide risk zones. Of the 220 shelters, seven are located within special landslide risk areas where the level of landslide hazards is particularly high.
Kyoto Prefecture had the highest rate of radiation protection shelters within landslide risk zones, with seven out of 10 shelters in the prefectural cities of Maizuru and Ayabe as well as the town of Ine being located in such hazard areas.
A representative from the Kyoto Prefectural Government told the Mainichi, "We did not think about landslide risks when selecting facilities for radiation protection shelters. We will take the matter into consideration."
Ehime Prefecture, where No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata Nuclear Power Plant is in operation, came in second after Kyoto Prefecture for the highest rate of radiation protection shelters within landslide risk zones. Of the 13 designated shelters, five in the town of Ikata, where the nuclear plant is located, fall within the landslide risk zones. In Kagoshima Prefecture, home to Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, whose No. 2 reactor is in operation, five out of 14 shelters are located within landslide zones. The five shelters are in the city of Satsumasendai, where the nuclear station is located, and also in the city of Ichikikushikino. Ten out of 31 shelters in Fukui Prefecture, home to the largest number of nuclear power plants in the country, are located within landslide risk zones.